When was the last time you read something that gave you pause because it resonated so much with you? A few weeks ago, I was reading to my daughter from her prayer book before bed. The last sentence in the prayer struck me. “Thank you that you gave us families to teach us how you care for us.” Whoa.
It would be impossible for me to count how many times this week alone I did not respond to my daughter in the way God cares for us. Instead, I responded with impatience, lack of understanding and snapping. Yikes. I can do better. I need to do better to raise up this little human to show compassion and empathy to those around her. As humans we are expected to fail. Yet, we cannot use this as an excuse to gloss over our faults and ignore opportunities to improve.
With this resurfaced awareness of my own behavior and this prayer still fresh in my mind, I happened to watch the video we took of my son being brought home this past October. Hello tears! It was so precious to see my daughter meeting him. Instantly enthralled and slightly confused by this tiny little human. By the end of the video, I realized within my sleep deprived states and rushing around, I never paused to really appreciate and give HER credit. Here comes the wave of mom guilt. Her life, as she knew it for the two and a half years she was an only child, completely flipped upside down and inside out the minute we walked in the door with her baby brother.
Since stepping into her role as big sister we have experienced a myriad of emotions. We have started to find our flow, but the first few months were so rough. We still have moments of struggle trying to find balance as a family of four. I wish I could say I respond to her big emotions calmly and with grace every time we stumble into them, clearly I do not. Once we make it off the roller coaster ride, she shows me grace over and over again. Yes, she shows ME grace.
Instead of holding my poor reactions over my head. She shows me grace. I snap. She still wants hugs. I get frustrated. She still wants to color with me. I lose my patience. She still wants to have a dance party with me. I become overwhelmed trying to do anything with two babes craving emotional and physical connection, she shows me grace. She does not stay mad. She does not remind me how I matched her emotions when I should have responded calmly with love. She does not hold onto these moments and use them against me at a later time. This is the definition of grace God shows us. She automatically forgives and wipes the slate clean.
To have the forgiveness of a toddler. This simple sentence, “Thank you that you gave us families to teach us how you care for us,” was the neon sign I needed. This prayer was a turning point for me to really focus daily on my reactions to my sweet little sour patch child. It was a renewing motivation to give my struggles up to God, to pray about them daily and use His example to respond to my daughter. She deserves it. All of our children do.
Multiple times a day now, I say a quick prayer when my *almost* threenager is hitting every trigger of mine, “Help me respond to her with the grace you show me.” Some days I am the definition of patience and smoothly pivot around toddler tantrums. I say all the right things to help bring back calm. I show her so clearly that I have unconditional love for her. Other days, I stumble through these situations and come out the other side feeling battered and not quite sure what happened. I know you mommas can relate!
Yet, again and again, she shows me grace. This has been my gentle reminder to keep my calm. To respond with understanding instead of impatience. To respond with soft, firmness instead of exasperation. To give her better ways to express her emotions. To show her, no matter how crazy momma may think things are in any given moment, her feelings are valid. To ensure she never questions my love for her. To ensure she never questions if something she says or does will diminish her beauty in my eyes.
It takes a village to raise up a generation. I would love to hear gentle ways you have found successful in dealing with the ever changing emotions of your little people.
My most recent success has been rephrasing my expectations. Instead of, “If you don’t get dressed now, we won’t have time to read books before bed.” I empower her with choice by saying “We will read books when you get dressed.” This is significantly more likely to leave us both calmer and following through with what momma asks.
Everyday can feel like trial and error with raising up good humans. If you are trying your best, you are doing great. Show yourself the same grace you show your children.
May our grace to our children be like God’s. Full and free.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.1 Peter 4:10
2 thoughts on “Lessons from My Toddler: Grace”
We also had a hard time transitioning to a family of four a couple of years ago. My son who was 4 at the time was taking it pretty hard and developed behavior issues which passed after a year (Thank God!!!). The 4s are hard enough, but adding a new sibling to the mix makes it even harder on everyone.
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Wow. This was really powerful. Children model grace so beautifully for us.
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